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The Omega Theory: A Novel by [Alpert, Mark]
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4.3 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Science meets geopolitics meets religious fanaticism in Alpert's breathless sequel to Final Theory. Science historian David Swift and his physicist wife, Monique Reynolds, go in search of their autistic adopted son, 19-year-old Michael Gupta, who, savantlike, has memorized Einstein's unified field theory, after members of a religious cult kidnap Michael from the Upper Manhattan Autism Center. The kidnapping occurs on the same day that Iran tests a nuclear device that does more than generate a seismic rumble. According to a Columbia colleague of Swift's, it "severed the continuity of our universe." Accompanied by FBI special agent Lucille Parker, Swift and Reynolds embark on a tiring (and sometimes tiresome) quest that takes them to Jerusalem and Turkmenistan. Those who can identify with characters who are little more than plot devices or mouthpieces for exposition—the good guys rant about advanced physics, the bad ones about the necessity of the coming apocalypse—will be most rewarded. (Feb.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Alpert’s follow-up to his acclaimed first novel, Final Theory (2008), continues the adventures of science historian David Swift. This time Swift’s adopted autistic son, Michael, is kidnapped by a radical cult that believes Armageddon is imminent. Buried in Michael’s brain is the formula for Einstein’s much-sought-after universal theory. The leader of the cult plans to use the theory to create a weapon that will destroy the world and lead his followers to heaven. The weapon he envisions, in fact, will be strong enough to destroy the entire solar system and create a new big bang. David must rescue his son (and the world) while somehow subduing the cult and its ever-increasing team of fanatical followers. With a little less intellectually exciting scientific theory this time and more straight-ahead action, Alpert may lose some of his high-end readers, but he stands to gain many more mainstream thriller fans, those who like a Michael Crichton–like mix of science and action. --Jeff Ayers

Product Details

  • File Size: 947 KB
  • Print Length: 325 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone (February 15, 2011)
  • Publication Date: February 15, 2011
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0043RSJ5E
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #826,299 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Timothy Haugh VINE VOICE on July 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mr. Alpert seems to have learned a little about writing thrillers since his first outing, Final Theory. Last time, though Mr. Alpert's use of science was strong, his plotting and characters left a little to be desired. In this novel, his science is, if anything, better, but now the intensity is ratcheted up with the immediate potential for universal disaster, the relationships between the characters having more depth, and by mostly avoiding common pitfalls of thrillers by getting the FBI and Israeli Intelligence on the side of our protagonists.

In The Omega Theory, Mr. Alpert brings back a number of characters from Final Theory, including the Swift family--David, the science historian; Monique Reynolds, physicist and now David's wife; and Michael, the autistic boy who has Einstein's final theory in his head--as well as Lucille Parker, the FBI agent who tracked the Swifts throughout the last novel but is now on their side when Michael get kidnapped. On the other side is a religious fanatic named Brother Cyrus who hopes to bring about the end of Creation using Einstein's theory. With the help of adherents in high places and some well-drawn followers (Tamara and Angel, in particular) he makes an interesting foe. Olam ben Z'man, the mystical scientist, also deserves mention as an excellent and memorable character.

But what really stands out here is the science behind the plot. On the surface, this appears to be a straightforward narrative about a kidnapping and a nuclear test detected in Iran. Instead, it turns out to be something a bit cleverer related to information theory, quantum computing, and the underlying structure of the universe. Though Mr.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What if the universe is nothing more than an incredibly intricate computer program? Sounds a bit Matrix-y, yeah? But apparently famed physicist John Archibald Wheeler theorized this "It From Bit" idea -- that literally everything in the universe could be described with 'yes' or 'no' binary choices -- near the end of his career. And it's an idea still being kicked around in some scientific circles. This It From Bit theory is the basis for Mark Alpert's taut, fast-paced scientific thriller The Omega Theory. Only Alpert poses the question: If the universe is a computer program, what could cause it to crash?

As our thriller opens, Columbia University science historian David Swift and his wife, physicist Monique Reynolds, are opening a Physicists for Peace conference in New York City. But just before Swift gives his keynote, the news arrives that Iran has just tested a nuclear weapon. Meanwhile, David and Monique's adopted autistic son Michael is kidnapped by some religious nut-jobs who are after a secret stored in his head.

We soon learn, though, that the nuclear test may not be quite what it seems. And with the help of the FBI and a mysterious Israeli physicist and computer scientist, David and Monique race through the back alleys and secret tunnels of the Old City of Jerusalem to the deserts of Turkmenistan to try to rescue Michael and find the truth about a dastardly plot to destroy the universe.

Along the way, Alpert gives us some fascinating tidbits about everything from quantum computing to particle physics to code-breaking to the always-interesting science vs. religion debate. In fact, Alpert primes the pump with a quote from Albert Einstein to kick off the novel: "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.
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Format: Hardcover
Mark Alpert has all the ingredients to write a great scientific thriller. His knowledge of, and ability to explain science, his great skill in producing a plot that puts it all together, and his talent in putting a high end suspense to the whole story. Loved this thriller and I loved the characters. Some characters I love to hate the most are religious fanatics and there minions. This thriller will give you that and more. The only minor grievance I have was that the ending could have been a bit more satisfying. In other words, some deaths came too quick. This one's a hit!
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Format: Hardcover
I started this book with some hope. But soon, it was apparent that the reader would be required to accept LOTS of absurd improbabilities that made zero sense. For example, the idea that a nuclear bomb and an arrangement of lasers could end the universe. Or that Einstein's relative would inherit his genius (shades of Lamarckism - lol). Or that the Theory of Everything can be rattled off the top of your head. Or worst, that a monumental secret was kept by thousands on all continents.

The religious folks seems a murdering crew and Kaballah mixes with cosmology but why insist on sense when you have LOTS of action? In fact, this would be a great movie if there hadn't already been a few hundred just like it. David (hero, "Peace physicist") plays second fiddle to Michael, the autistic genius, who stole the show - great characterization. But the rest - Daniel's wife, bad guys, fellow scientists - were throwaway caricatures - the physicist from the Ghetto, the Jew with au eye patch who alternates between Hebrew and English, the FBI agent heroine. What was so absurd was the notion that generals, scientists and policy analysts would join a nutty conspiracy to engineer heaven.

I also stayed up reading since the action was pretty non-stop. Dialogue could have been better - lots of unnecessary yapping and explanation. The "F" word's sudden appearance seemed out of place. The "science" satisfies those who don't know too much science or think a bomb can bring heaven. Needless to say, although the good guys eventually win, in the end the loser turns out to be the reader.
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